When someone we care about passes away, a huge emptiness fills our heart and our lives. Gone are the moments we spend together, the conversations, the laughter, the dreams and the person we cared for. Sadly, a life and the time we shared have come to an end. But something precious still remains: our memories. Memories are a treasured gift, as they forever hold the cherished moments we have shared with the people we hold dear. Our memories slowly but surely begin to replace the emptiness we feel in our hearts and can offer healing in challenging and troubled times.
There is an old but a truthful saying that goes something like, "Time will pass and sorrow will fade but our precious memories will always remain." I've heard it a few times at funerals and it has always comforted me. It also inspires me and reminds me that there are many creative, healing and heartfelt ways to gather and keep our beloved memories.
Recently a woman told me that when her best friend passed away, she was consoled by the stories people shared at the funeral. She loved hearing the way her friend had touched each and every person in her own unique, special way. Following the funeral, she sent a letter to all the people who had signed the guest registry and asked them to send her a story, a picture, or a thought about their departed friend and loved one. The response was overwhelming. Letters, notes, cards, and photos came pouring in. The woman took great delight in reading each and assembling them all in a book. Together, the stories painted a picture of a life filled with happiness, friendship, kindness, and worth. At first the woman thought she would assemble one book and give it to her friend's parents, but after she completed it, she knew that would not suffice. She had the book photocopied and sent a copy to every person who had contributed something in the book, saying, "I realized that our friend’s story is our story, too."
In our local newspaper I read about a group of women who created a quilt for a recently widowed friend from the fabric of her late-husband's clothing, making a beautiful blanket to cover their grieving friend in love.
When my uncle passed away, memories of the music he loved filled my heart. Uncle Stuart loved the music of the big bands. He so enjoyed listening to the songs of Benny Goodman and Glen Miller. What I loved was that he loved sharing the music with me too. I can still imagine the horns joyfully playing the melody of the great song, "In the Mood" by Glen Miller. Every time I hear that song, I smile and my memories effortlessly flood back to Uncle Stuart. I gathered a bunch of the songs my Uncle loved and now have a playlist dedicated to him. Music has a powerful role in connecting us with our memories and the people we have loved. This simple act of gathering music helps to keep our memories fresh and readily available.
Acts of memory keeping help soothe an aching heart and can comfort someone who is a grieving. These tangible ways of memory keeping can give someone something to hold on to when they’ve lost someone dear. Remember: There is no right or wrong way to gather and keep memories. Create a way that feels right to you.
Below are some additional suggestions to gather and keep our precious memories.